PLC Detroit Discussion

Who We Are

The Placemaking Leadership Council (PLC) is a group of doers and deep thinkers at the forefront of the Placemaking movement. Founded in 2013, the Council was formed by PPS to strengthen Placemaking as an international movement and to establish a cross-disciplinary network for placemakers working in many diverse contexts.

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With a focus on mobilizing local action and networks, the PLC is launching Resource Teams based on what we’ve identified as the key agendas of a robust Placemaking campaign:

Since the current system of governance often gets in the way of earnest Placemaking efforts, we need to be creative about how we govern. Caught in an endless cycle of bureaucracy, competition, and siloed thinking, people become discouraged from acting creatively, and it is difficult to get funding for new ideas. In communicating the importance of place-based initiatives across sectors, this agenda focuses on challenging governments and private organizations to adopt a more collaborative approach to leadership and policymaking. Working together on short-term, low-cost improvements can help build bridges between city agencies as well as to citizens, benefiting long-term implementation and maintenance as well. Through the Placemaking process, governments can set places up to self-manage, and even self-govern, by creating a culture of engagement in the community that supports a given space.
Great art makes great places, great places attract great talent, and great talent creates great jobs. Also, more than ever before, public artworks are stimulating and inviting active dialogue rather than just passive observation. By fostering social interaction in this way, public art installations can play a key role in a community’s sense of identity and belonging. Since Placemaking is about sharing and learning from a community’s own talents and resources, how can a campaign for Placemaking address and embrace the community’s creativity, support local talent, and use the arts as a reinvigorating force?
There is a health revolution underway, and Placemaking can and will be a key component in this radical shift. We need to design communities that encourage healthy lifestyles on multiple levels—places that encourage more social connection, more physical activity, and better access to fresh foods. The process of Placemaking shows how these multiple health initiatives intersect—the creation of more walkable streets, safer parks and playgrounds, or local markets where fresh healthy foods are available, for example. Too often, however, these campaigns are approached as separate and unrelated efforts. Since the burden of preventable chronic disease is plaguing the physical and fiscal health of the nation, we need to start working together to invest in the one thing that creates good health to begin with—place.
Transportation, redefined. Streets are the most fundamental public spaces in communities, but they are also one of the most conflicted and overlooked. Streets as Places is a growing movement premised on the idea that instead of simply moving people from point A to point B, streets should add value to the community and be destinations in their own right. The goal of this agenda is to help people begin to see streets as vital public spaces and essential factors in the social and economic fabric of communities.
Placemaking brings new ways of redefining the nature and function of civic institutions like libraries, museums, city halls, and other establishments. Moving away from the idea of buildings as “iconic” architectural feats, our idea of an “Architecture of Place” is about creating multi-purpose buildings and institutions that make people feel welcomed, not intimidated or excluded. How can we steer discussions about architecture and design toward the idea of place, and how can a community’s anchor buildings contribute to healthy, comfortable, and engaging public spaces and destinations at the human scale.
The rebirth and great expansion of farmers markets and public markets in the past decade provides a foundation for a new way of addressing inequities within our food distribution system. We call this concept “Market Cities” and believe it can become a driving policy force in communities today. By linking food with place, urban market systems in the 21st century can be vital centers of exchange connecting rural and urban environments and places that anchor local culture and social life for all residents.
Issues of community inclusion, empowerment, and engagement apply to all kinds of places. These messages resonate in particular where communities have been disinvested, where trends or intentional planning processes have unfairly resulted in loss of place. Placemaking can help stimulate economic development and job creation; it can bridge divides between different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups as demographic changes occur; and it can bring new purpose to unconventional places like employment offices and health clinics. In engaging the community throughout this process, we must focus on ways to better incorporate Placemaking into community development processes and the work of social service providers. How can a campaign for Placemaking encompass the particular needs of low-income communities?
We know that the more multi-use public spaces are, the more successful they will become as community gathering places. Nonetheless, we continue to design and manage places that have a single or exclusive function—whether it is a park, a square, or a street. As our communities become more diverse and populous, we will need not just more public spaces, but places where people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities can come together and feel welcome. How can we promote more of the right kind of design, policies, and investments to create these kinds of places?
Over the past half-century, environmentalists have led the way in raising public awareness about massive global issues like climate change. In galvanizing action to address such large-scale and abstract issues, however, this focus sometimes overshadows local issues and channels for action. A new environmental agenda that draws on the strengths of Placemaking will continue to ask the familiar questions about any new action: Is it sustainable? Will it minimize harmful impacts on ecosystems? But we will also ask new questions: Is a project enhancing life, both natural and human? How can we best nurture our natural and built environments? How can a campaign for Placemaking address and embrace sustainability for the planet and its people?